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Xavi Hernández, Carles Puyol and Leo Messi form part of world footballing heritage, and also to that of FC Barcelona. Other than their national teams, none of the trio have ever represented a different club since arriving at FC Barcelona at a very young age. And it was revealed today that they will all be staying in the Catalan capital for some time longer, for Xavi and Puyol have extended their contracts to 2016 and Messi until 2018.
Xavi: Record appearances
32 year old Xavi Hernández holds the all-time record for games played in the Barça shirt (652). He has been the brains of the team for several years and is one of the finest exponents of the club’s unique style. He has been delighting football purists with his revolutionary understanding of the link between the midfield and the forward line ever since he joined the club as a mere 11-year-old in 1991. He played at every level through to his first team debut in the summer of 1998. This is his fourteenth season in the elite, where he has so far played in all 16 league matches, 5 out of 6 in the Champions League, 1 in the Copa del Rey and both Supercup fixtures.
Puyol: Captain courage
34 year old Carles Puyol has been Barça captain since 2004. He is the soul of the team with his extraordinarily infectious determination. In 1995 he joined the Barça U18 squad, first as a winger, and later as a full back, which is where he made his first team debut in 1999, and eventually became one of the world’s greatest centre backs of the last decade. His 569 first team appearances is a record only topped by team-mate Xavi, and despite a series of problems with injury, he is still an irreplaceable member of the first eleven.
Messi: Simply the best
25 year old Leo Messi is considered by many to be the greatest player the sport has ever seen, and that is still at a relatively early stage of what has already been a glittering career. His sublime skill and ability to change a game single-handedly have made him the icon of the best Barça team ever. He has won the Ballon d’Or three times and is the hot tip to win a fourth in January, while his other awards include two Golden Boots. There is no stopping the Argentinian marvel. He is the club’s all-time record goalscorer in official matches (287) and in 2012 has set a new world record by scoring 90 goals for club and country. In the present Liga, he has already found the target 25 times in 16 games. He was a child prodigy when he joined the club in 2000, but he has managed to surpass even the wildest of expectations.
In 2016, when their new contracts end, Xavi and Puyol will have spent 25 and 21 years at the club, respectively, while Messi, in 2018, will have been here for 18. Three lives dedicated to the Barça cause.
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